My Children Landed Me in Debt. – Jane

“Dear Steve,

My husband and I have inherited many bills from our children over the last year. One son was in a car accident and was sued by the other party for damages to their vehicle. Since he was under 18 at the time, I had to pay $6000.00 that my husband’s insurance refused to pay, plus our attorney fees.

Another son and his girlfriend wanted to buy a house and had just had a baby. Their credit was bad, so I was the only one with decent credit to co-sign a loan. At the time, my son was working at a good job and going to college.

The relationship didn’t work out and so he moved out of the house he owned and allowed her to live in the house under a rental contract. She only paid one month of rent in the four months she lived there and we were forced to evict her and the baby. Unfortunately, we did not know that she never had the utilities placed in her name, as specified in the rental agreement, and ran up four months’ of bills in my son’s name.

Recently, he has been acutely ill and we have been running from specialist to specialst without many answers. He’s been off work for 6 weeks and unable to pay any bills.

The girlfriend is now suing him for child support and the utility companies have put a lien on his house for the past four months of bills. He is currently two months behind on the mortgage payment.

My ex-husband’s health insurance plan changed dramatically last fall and he neglected to let me know. Since he carries the insurance on my two sons, I found out the hard way when the dentist, physical therapist, and family practice physician sent me to collections for non-payment. All three had been sending letters to my husband and he’d received all of the EOB’s denying payment by the insurance company, but he never called me. The physicians automatically sent me to collections instead! I’ve paid every deductible and co-pay to these places for the last 10 years and I never even got a phone call or letter to tell me what had happened!

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I work 50-55 hours per week on salary and am going to school to get additional certification. I just received an income tax bill of over $6000.00, plus all of my son’s hospital and physician bills for the last six weeks of hell we’ve been through.

He wants to give the house back to the bank. I’ve got $45,000.00 in an annuity and thought I could take that money out to pay down this debt. I’ve got $21,000.00 in credit card debt from paying for all of the past medical bills and college expenses for my oldest son.

My husband owns his own business, but barely makes enough to pay his bills. We can’t file bankruptcy as a couple, because he’ll lose his business and has a pretty tight contract with the person he purchased the business from. I’m tapped out and stressed out! I don’t see any light at the end of this tunnel.

Should my oldest son (21 years of age) and I file bankruptcy or is there another way out of this mess? Will clearing out my annuity help or hurt more next year?


Dear Jane,

That’s quite a bit of misfortune and stress to live through. Tough times.

Going bankrupt now might solve the past but it won’t solve the future. If you went bankrupt now would you be able to move ahead and stay current with your sons current medical bills?

Hopefully you have now learned the lesson to NEVER cosign for any debt. It rare works out well.

I think you need to do a bit more research first. You need to go and meet with a bankruptcy lawyer and talk to them about if your annuity is protected from your bankruptcy. If it is you need to look at your annuity as your savings for the future years when you won’t have any income. You could drain it now but how long would it take to replace it?

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With your son, I’m not sure he should rush to file bankruptcy if he is still incurring medical bills he might struggle with. In that case, he should consider waiting until things begin to improve for him before he considers bankruptcy.

There are certain things that bankruptcy won’t clear, like child support, income tax, and criminal fines.

Please do me a favor and contact a local bankruptcy attorney and schedule a free bankruptcy consultation. Once you do that please come back and give us an update in the comments section.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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